Sunday, 6 October 2013

In search of a decent ale

Until recently, I'd more or less given up hope on Polish beers. Too sweet, too strong, lacking in real flavour - a suspension of dust in sugary, alcoholised water that tend to give whopping hangovers after a modest intake. So for the last few years, I've drunk very little beer (in Poland anyway; in the UK there's no shortage of decent ales), sticking instead to red wine.

But things are looking up. Rather like the US, where a veritable explosion of microbreweries have overturned the traditional primacy of the big industrial-corporate brewers, Poland is on the verge of a beery revolution. Spearheaded by the 'you've never heard of this beer' hipster culture.

Round the corner from the British Business Centre (Marszałkowska 89), on ul. Żurawia, is a hipster bar called Spiskowcy Rozkoszy (literally 'the Conspirators of Delight') which has no fewer than six artisan ales available on tap. One I tried the other week was called 'King of Hop' from a microbrewery called Ale Browar. This beer, incredibly bitter from a massive overdose of hops, was so absolutely fantastic that its taste tantalised my memory for the next few days... I MUST TASTE IT AGAIN! When I returned to Spiskowcy Rozkoszy, it had gone; its place behind the bar taken by some other artisan ale of a less memorable character. When I checked the website of Ale Browar, it had gone.

But there are other hipster hangouts where Żywiec, Llllechhh and Tyskie are taboo. Cuda na Kiju (literally 'Miracles on a Stick' - the 'stick' being the beer tap) in the former headquarters of the Polish United Workers' Party also has some outstanding beers on offer. Below: a busy crowd on a Wednesday night - at last UK pub culture is taking hold, at least among Poland's younger, wealthier, urban consumers.

Here, one can try a beer called Atak Chmielu (literally 'Attack of Hops') from a microbrewery called Pinta. This is an American India Pale Ale brewed using imported American hops. It is advertised as being an uncompromisingly hoppy ale and so it is - fantastic stuff.

I shall be returning to this beer; its taste is so characteristic and strong that I feel I must have another goodly gulp in the near future.

Today I heard from Bob and Chris of another such bar with many artisan beers on tap on ul. Nowogrodzka, across the street from my old office. As such quality beer-drinking places spring up all over Warsaw, offering access to excellent beers made by people with a passion for brewing rather than by accountants, I feel I shall be returning to ale from time to time (though taking care to to expand in girth as a result!)

This time two years ago:
Poland's president inaugurates Moni's academic year

Autumn evening, central Warsaw

This time five years ago:
Short-term future of suburban development

This time six years ago:
"You'll look funny when you're fifty"

1 comment:

Bob said...

Michael - this is the place: